The Lament of Zachary Warren

March 17, 2014 Criminal Defense

Zachary Warren was a master of the universe. At least the legal universe. At 29 a Stanford degree, a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown Law School, a clerkship at the Sixth Circuit and a job at the Wall Street titan Dewey & LeBoeuf. But this legal prodigy made a bonehead mistake any grizzled veteran of the criminal bar educated at a third rate law school would have prevented. He talked to a prosecutor without a lawyer.

Now his dazzling career is in jeopardy by a prosecutor seeking his scalp. One professional career sacrificed for another. The Martha Stewart lesson has not been learned. Another failing of our law schools (Georgetown was ranked #13 in the latest US News poll). The lesson: Stupid people never learn; smart people learn from their mistakes; geniuses learn from other people’s mistakes.

How did this disaster unfold? Warren was called by the SEC and gave them some “background” information about the Dewey implosion of 2012. He was then asked to come to Washington to “assist” them further. When he showed up, a state prosecutor and an FBI agent also attended the meeting . Warren naively still thought he was just “helping” them out. Lambs to the slaughter.

The next call he got: “You’ve been indicted.” Only then did he hire a lawyer. Mr. Warren made the classic mistake of trying to explain, to be helpful and cooperative. If only I told them what happened it would be cleared up. And it ended in disaster, a promising career in flames.